Joseph Herrin (09-15-08)
I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
A significant part of the identity of the savage wolves mentioned above is that they “seek to draw away disciples after them.” In other words, they have a selfish motive in their ministry. They are seeking something for self. They are trying to build a following of their own, rather than directing the children of God to follow Christ. This is contrary to the walk of an overcomer.
These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes.
Ministers are called to serve the flock of Christ by pointing them to a Spirit led life where Christ is the head of the body.
For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
He is also head of the body, the church...
And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body...
Christ prophesied to His disciples that if He be lifted up from the earth, speaking of His death on the cross, He would draw all men unto Himself. Yet of the savage wolves we read that they seek to draw men after themselves. In other words, they are interested in building their own ministries and this has become a true conflict in their devotion to Christ.
Many men begin with a sincere desire to lead others to Christ, but when men begin to be drawn to them to receive of their teaching or ministry, they begin to be seduced by the allure of building a personal following. They begin to build large organizations and to construct buildings to accommodate all those who are drawn after them. Such an occurrence is completely foreign to the words of the New Testament. We read of no ministry centers, or ministry organizations.
The most profound and far reaching ministry of the entire New Testament church age was that of the apostle Paul. He traveled with a group of believers whose number was in continuous flux, and never grew to more than a handful. He sometimes stayed in one city for a considerable amount of time, even a period of years, but never constructed a ministry center. On one occasion we read of Paul renting a school adjacent to a synagogue and using it as a place of teaching, but even then he sought no property of his own. He merely rented the space and let it go when the Lord revealed it was time to move on.
When some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. And this took place for two years...
Paul never needed a large ministry center for he was not seeking to draw men after himself, nor to make them perpetually dependent upon him. He rebuked the believers in Corinth for become factious, having organized themselves around personalities.
I Corinthians 1:12-13
“Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ." Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
I Corinthians 3:21-23
So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.
Paul always kept in mind that the church belongs to Christ. They were not his followers. They were followers of Christ. Paul had no interest in creating a personal following. However, it did not take long for carnal men to begin trying to form themselves around a particular minister or ministry. In this present day in America we see this carnal tendency arising to heights never seen in history. Megachurches have formed around personalities. Joel Osteen draws 34,000 weekly to his meetings which are hosted in a building that would rival any municipal stadium. It is the former home of the Houston Rockets basketball team.
An article on the largest churches in Houston has this revelatory comment to make:
Houston is well-represented on the list (of megachurches in America), with Lakewood Church ranking fifth (are there really four churches that are larger than one that holds its services in a renovated basketball arena?), Fellowship of The Woodlands at no. 17, Second Baptist Church at no. 33, and Windsor Village United Methodist at no. 43. The common thread through all of these mega-churches is that each of them is closely associated with a charismatic leader, and that is certainly true of the Houston contingent -- Joel Osteen at Lakewood, Kerry Shook at Fellowship, Ed Young at Second Baptist, and Kirbyjon Caldwell at Windsor Village.
This tendency of Christians in America to flock after men, rather than flocking after Christ, has become so commonplace that it is looked upon as both normal and desirable. But is it truly the will of God? Paul warned that a trait of savage wolves is that they would “draw away the disciples after them.” Perhaps the first question asked of Christians when they meet is, “Who is your pastor?” Or perhaps it is “What church do you go to?”
Search the Scriptures ever so diligently as you will and you will not find a trace of this type of behavior in the Bible except in a couple rare instances where it is roundly condemned. Paul condemned this tendency among the believers in Corinth, and John condemned Diotrephes for desiring to be first among the people of God and making himself a self-appointed ruler.
This tendency among the people of God to gather around personalities must be strenuously resisted. I believe God has allowed the church to know persecution in many nations for the chief purpose of negating this tendency among believers. Christianity was beginning to spread rapidly in China just prior to the Communist takeover of the nation, and many cities were building large churches after the same pattern seen in the West. When the Communists came to power, the church went underground and began to meet in homes. This by necessity kept the gatherings small, but they multiplied until it is estimated there are 80-100 million Christians in China meeting in house churches. The number of churches is undocumented but could exceed 2 million.
A wonderful consequence of the church being forced underground in China is that they are not spending their money building large edifices, and they are much more dependent upon the Spirit of Christ to direct them than their counterparts in America. Rather than getting their quarterly lesson outline from the denominational publishing house, they look to the Spirit of Christ to direct them. They are also protected from the tendency to flock after personalities as many in the West flocked to Lakeland, Florida, or to Fort Mills, South Carolina (Morningstar’s Heritage International campus).
All of this running after names and phenomena in America should bring to mind the warning of Christ.
What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Yahshua answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many... And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many.”
Is there not a great similarity to this warning and the warning Paul gave concerning savage wolves that would enter in among the flock to draw men after themselves? It is also to be noted that so much of the misleading teachings of this hour are coming forth from what is deemed as “the prophetic movement.” Christ said many false prophets would arise and mislead many.
I would like to speak of one particular movement that is seeking to draw a following, and that is what is not being touted as “the Presence Movement” spearheaded by Dutch Sheets, and lauded by Peter Wagner and others. An extract from Dutch Sheets’ website states the following:
Get Ready for September!
It is so huge on God’s timetable that it will mark one of the greatest shifts in the spiritual realm our generation has ever seen:
· A season of suddenlies will begin
· The confusion and deception ruling America (including within the Church) will begin to lift
· The November elections will shift toward God’s will
· The coming great awakening to America will go to a new level
· The “presence movement” will begin
The Presence Movement
The coming awakening will not be known as a prayer movement, apostolic movement, prophetic movement, teaching movement, miracle movement, gifts movement, glory movement, etc. It will include all of these but the dominant emphasis and characteristic will be His presence. He-- not one of His manifestations or elements of gifting – will be the focal point.
Our ministry in Colorado Springs, along with many others I’m sure, has been privileged by God to help birth this. We were visited by the Holy Spirit June 15th and asked to host His Presence 24/7 for 90 days, just as Obed-edom did the Ark of the Covenant, also called “the Ark of His Presence” ( see 2 Samuel 6:10-11). We have suspended everything else to host Him-- no classes, no preaching (even on Sundays), no programs—nothing but worship. It has wrecked us! His presence has been so overwhelming at times in our gatherings that none of us knows what to do. We are being ruined for “normal” Christianity.
It has become obvious to us that this assignment is on behalf of the entire nation. We are in the hidden, secret place with God, allowing Holy Spirit to hover through our worship and birth a “presence movement”. God has spoken to us prophetically that this movement characterized by His presence will begin to be released to the nation in September. To facilitate this we are moving our hosting of Him to a larger venue the last 3 days, September 11-13, and inviting many to join us. We are confident that what we, and I’m sure others, have been birthing will be imparted to hundreds—perhaps thousands—at that time.
When God spoke to me to expand the last 3 days for the purpose of impartation, I was not thinking about the fact that this would begin on our 88th day, which also begins the 8th year after 9/11/01. Eight is the biblical number for new beginnings. (Many of you are aware that Chuck Pierce prophesied that America would enter into a seven-year season of war, which began on 9/11/01.) We did not plan this visitation and consequent 90 day assignment to begin when it did, making the 88th day September 11, ending a seven year war cycle and marking a new beginning…but God did! Come and help us decree the end of the old season and launch this “new beginning” of the presence movement!
These 3 days will probably be unlike anything you’re been part of -- no preaching or teaching, just worship 24 hours each day. (We, of course, always make room for intercession and prophetic release as the Holy Spirit leads.) Some of us may bring a blanket and pillow and, like Joshua of old, stay in His presence all the time, except perhaps to freshen up once in awhile (see Ex. 33:11). (Please secure lodging if you’re coming from out of town, in order to have a place for your belongings, to clean up and to rest, if necessary.) I am certain that those who come will carry His presence home with them.
When I read this I was immediately struck with the similarities to Lakeland. Dutch Sheets said there would be no preaching of the Word, and there was precious little of this in Lakeland, and when it did occur it was usually very elementary, or even worse it was error about angels and anointings and impartations. There is also an emphasis on music. Music was relied upon to a great extent to set a festive environment at Lakeland, to get people excited, and to raise their level of expectation. This is also a predominant feature at Morningstar and at Mike Bickle’s ministries such as IHOP.
Let me say a word about music, lest some misconstrue my words. The Scriptures clearly reveal that God is the author of spiritual songs and hymns. David was a man after God’s heart and he is called “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” The central book in the Bible is the book of Psalms, and I believe this is symbolic of the central role of worship in the kingdom of heaven.
Yet, even as Satan has produced false prophets by the myriad, he has also flooded the world and the church with counterfeit worship leaders and worshipers. The counterfeit of Satan stimulates the soul of man without causing the spirit within man to arise. Satan is well pleased to hear Christians singing and praising and worshiping God, as long as they do not do so “in Spirit and in truth.” Let the Christian offer to God an offering from the flesh and Satan has performed his job.
How do Christians discern the authentic from the counterfeit? I do not know of any set formula to distinguish the difference, but I will say this as a general rule. Satan’s counterfeit in the church sounds a lot like the music of the world. Yahshua declared “My sheep hear My voice and they will not follow another.” I think the same principle applies to discerning the music that comes from the Spirit. God’s sheep who know the voice of God will be able to discern the difference.
Can you tell the difference between emotional stimulation and entering into the presence of God? Many are unable to divide between soul and spirit, but it is a discernment the church desperately needs to learn. God is not pleased with all worship anymore than He is pleased with all prophecy. Christ said, “Many will come to me saying... ‘Did we not prophesy in Your name?’” He will reply, “Depart from Me you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you.” In a similar vein we read:
“I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies... Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
God then goes on to speak of the Israelites offering their praise to Him while they carried their idols along with them. So too does the church offer to God praise while they have idols in their hearts. Such worship is despised. Put away your idolatry, and pursue righteousness. Then God will delight in the voice of His children.
So much of the worship of the church today depends upon the gifting of the musicians and singers. Those who are chosen for worship leaders are picked for their talent rather than for a spirit of holiness. I have watched the musicians at particular ministries and noted how much they resemble the musicians of the world in dress, appearance and mannerisms. If they have so molded themselves in these overt ways to the spirit of the world, will not their music reveal the same spirit?
Many Christians and ministries have embraced talented musicians and singers whose lives are marked by impurity. They are willing to overlook moral failings in order to have skillful worship leaders who will produce something that is professional and pleasing to the congregation. This is the same error manifested in those who have embraced men like Paul Cain and Todd Bentley when their lives were an offense to a holy God. Will God receive worship from those who are trampling on the blood of His Son and despising the Spirit of Holiness? He says, “Remove the wicked man from your midst.”
The church has diminished her calling to a very low state. Many believers consider that they have fulfilled Paul’s words to “not forsake the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:24) when they have gone to their local center of worship on the appointed day of the week. Paul had something much higher in mind when he wrote of this. The word for “assembling” in the Greek is a very unusual and meaningful word. I will quote a passage of writing by J. Preston Eby that was forwarded to me by David Weber as I was writing this.
The Greek word for "assembling" is EPISUNAGOGE. The word, literally, is a verb meaning to synagogue. It is a compound of the Greek prefix EPI with the word SUNAGOGE from which we get our transliterated English word Synagogue. EPI means super- imposition - that which is above, higher than, highest, upon. SUNAGOGE means a meeting, assembly, or gathering. Putting these two words together, EPI- SUNAGOGE means THE ABOVE SYNAGOGUE, THE HIGHER MEETING, THE HIGHEST ASSEMBLY, THE HIGHER-THAN-ALL-GATHERINGS! It bespeaks of something far greater than merely collecting so many breathing bodies together in one place. It is a meeting in a higher realm, on a higher plane, in the high places of the Spirit, and in the heights of Truth. It is a gathering together in a dimension above. It indicates an assembling IN THE SPIRIT, as Paul also testified, "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:6). Tens of thousands, yea, tens of millions of believers gather together in "church buildings" every Sunday morning, and because they make the effort to get out of bed, get the family ready, and drive off to a warm pew, they are convinced that they have met the requirements of the divine decree: "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together."
My beloved, they have not even touched the hem of the garment of this truth! We are not to forsake or neglect that wonderful seating we have together WITH CHRIST IN THE HEAVENLIES! That is precisely what the passage is saying. Hebrews 10:25 is nothing but lifeless words, until one sits in the presence of the Father, joined in worship with kindred spirits, and partakes of that holy communion within the veil! It is only as spirit calls to spirit that the depths of eternal truth are opened. And multitudes who meet together every week for singing, teaching, etc., have never discovered the glorious and eternal reality of that ABOVE SYNAGOGUE. They do not meet or minister or live from that higher than all heavens realm of HIS LIFE.
David Weber adds:
Tens of thousands, yes, even tens of millions of believers gather together in "church buildings" every Sunday morning, and because they make the effort to get out of bed, get the family ready, and drive off to a warm pew, they are convinced that they have met the requirements of the divine decree: "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together."
They do not meet or minister or live from that higher than all heavens realm of HIS LIFE where we (the church) are to meet. The "Church" is to be a VIBRANT LIVING ORGANISM THAT MEETS CONTINUALLY IN THE SPIRIT, not an earthly organization that meets on Sundays and Wednesday evenings!
Does the worship of the church lift people into heavenly realms? If it does not help men and women to assemble in the presence of Christ, then it is merely a soulish substitute for the music of heaven. Sadly, the vast majority of music offered today is of the soulish kind.
An absence of preaching, a focus upon setting a mood with music, and an emphasis on manifestations and emotional euphoria are hallmarks of the types of movements Satan is raising up to ensnare the people of God and lead them into error in this day. I must mention that this is also the atmosphere of International House of Prayer, which I will speak on in part 3 of this series.
Dutch Sheets has come up with a new movement, a Presence Movement, that is being launched from his church, and he has invited Christians from all over to come and partake of it and to take the anointing back with them. He is promising an impartation even as did Todd Bentley. And like Todd Bentley, you have to go to where he is to get it.
We should be mindful of the words of the Lord once more.
“If therefore they say to you, 'Behold, He is in the wilderness,' do not go forth, or, 'Behold, He is in the inner rooms,' do not believe them.”
I would like to address this issue of various men and ministries promising an impartation in these days. Desiring to possess the ability to impart some anointing, or some presence of the Spirit of Christ is not new to this age. We read of an account 2,000 years ago of a man who desired greatly to have this ability, and it would be insightful to read the account.
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, "Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit." But Peter said to him, "May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.”
People of God, it is a serious thing to seek to take the things of God and use them for our own selfish ends. Todd Bentley had many convinced that he had a special anointing to heal. He foolishly spoke of the angel Emma moving on his behalf, and boasted that the healing anointing of Branham had been passed to him through this angel which Bob Jones introduced him to. This same Bob Jones who is now at Morningstar, endorsed wholeheartedly the Lakeland events, saying that he had prophesied their coming 25 years earlier.
BOB JONES: “So what’s going on? 25 years ago I brought a prophesy. The prophesy then was that the greatest showing on earth was going to begin. I would live to see it. It would be a 3 ring circus.”
Truly it did have a circus atmosphere, complete with carnival barkers hawking their merchandise. Todd Bentley promoted the idea that he was the possessor of a special anointing that he alone could pass along to people. In a CBN News interview, Todd stated:
"Our focus here in Florida every night is I lay hands on every single person who comes - whether it's 5,000, 10,000 - And I'm praying every night, 'God, give it away, give it away, give it away.' And that's the focus here: Impartation."
Many people from around the world converged upon Lakeland to receive some supernatural impartation or gift at the hands of Todd. They were allowed in his presence only after having paid their admission fee, and then they were goaded into giving more money to cause God to give back to them abundantly according to their desire. Peter’s words to Simon seem almost too soft to apply to the actions of Todd Bentley.
“For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
Is not Dutch Sheets manifesting the same spirit, albeit more subtly, when he encourages believers everywhere to congregate at his ministry in Colorado to partake of the Presence of God and to carry this movement back with them?
Rick Joyner has manifested a similar spirit in inviting the church to come to Morningstar to partake of the Lakeland revival that was transferred to them by some of their members. He wrote:
The History and Future of the Present Revival - Part 1
An extraordinary move of God is now breaking out in America. The breakout in Lakeland has been spectacular and is growing fast. We are experiencing a breakout at our base at Heritage, which in some ways has already surpassed anything we have experienced before. It, too, seems to be growing in intensity, and people are starting to come from far distances to experience it. News about other moves of God is also beginning to show up on the spiritual radar...
How do we embrace it? Go to Lakeland, Heritage, or go anywhere else that a breakout is happening. True revival is contagious...
Ah! Here is the caveat! If you want to experience what God is doing, you must go to where these men’s ministry centers are. How convenient for them. They are drawing men to themselves, and even more so, Morningstar has a hotel and restaurants, bookstores and vendors set up for the “benefit” of the seeker of God.
For those of you who want to come to Heritage, we still have rooms available at the Heritage Grand, and are presently holding meetings nightly at 7:00 p.m. Call 1-800-542-0278, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. EST to reserve a room. They are filling up quickly.
[Source: Morningstar Ministries - Special Bulletin]
My heart is saddened when I think of all the undiscerning, all the babes in Christ, who have flocked after these men and to various meetings out of a desperate desire to receive something from God. Many needed healing. Many simply wanted to be in the Father’s presence, having seen the broadcasts on GodTV, where once more we see a tie in to Mike Bickle, for he is on the board of this organization.
Many who came from far distances with serious illness and injury, left in the same condition. All who were allowed into Todd’s presence were pre-screened by his staff, and the serious conditions were turned away. Is this how God works? Does He turn down the hard cases while embracing the dubious and hard to observe ailments?
People of God, my heart has been stirred also at times in hope that God may possibly be doing some great work that I can go and participate in. My heart longs to be where God is moving, but He has given me discernment to not judge by the hype and emotion. The Spirit has given me this simple test of receiving His anointing.
God’s anointing comes from the crushing of the flesh. Even as the oil to light the lamps in the Temple came from the crushed flesh of ripe olives, so too does the oil of anointing of the Spirit flow from the lives of God’s children who have submitted to the crucifixion of their flesh. We all must pass through Gethsemane, whose name means olive press. Gethsemane was located on the Mount of OLIVES, and the people of God are depicted as an olive tree in Scripture.
God truly wants to impart a great Presence of His Spirit in the lives of each of His children. You need not run after some minister or ministry to attain it. You can submit to the cross right where you are, and as you do you will find the anointing revealed. No, this does not sound as attractive as merely going to a meeting and receiving an impartation. But Christ offers no other path to a resurrected life in Him. The seed has to fall into the ground and die before it can bring forth life abundantly.
You can test these ministers and that which they promise by observing whether the message of the cross is present in their movements. I am very concerned about movements that do not include the preaching of sound doctrine. If they promise the Presence of God and an impartation apart from taking up the cross and following Christ, then their message is but a false hope, and they themselves are speaking perverse things to draw men after themselves.
I am going to end part 2 of Savage Wolves with a vision that was sent to me today via e-mail.
Unto Us A Child Is Born…. Saints Beware! Antichrist Alert!
In the small hours of this morning (September 11th), just before I fell asleep, I had a vision.
I saw a ‘new-born’ baby wrapped up in white swaddling, and placed within a Moses basket in an empty and bare stable. I saw it was the child of ‘promise’ that had just been born. From a distance it reminded me of a bland-looking nativity scene, and echoed slightly of Jesus the promised child born 2,000 years ago, but yet I knew it was not Jesus as not only was the scene badly wrong and off, but that there was this horrible knowledge of darkness I had associated with it.
I then realised with horror that the child I saw in that basket was the Latter Rain Manchild. It was a child of ‘promise’ but in a dreadful and dark sense. And the ’stable’ was the counterfeit ‘church’, and the Moses basket the child was in resembled the presence movement or the Moses movement as advocated by Dutch Sheets and others. I clearly understood God to tell me that this illegitimate child had just been born (that is present tense, not past and not future). Though I knew it was intended by them, and had been spoken about for many years, and the signs were all there this was the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) next step, I was grieved indeed that the time had actually come and it was actually happening in reality and not just false prophet-land of imagination, lies and hype. God had actually allowed it.
I got a closer look at the baby - it was really ugly. The white swaddling gave it an appearance of holiness, but it in no way took away from the child’s essential ugliness (of character and nature), or its darkness. The swaddling was very, very tight to the point of being very constraining, and the child was bloated and red-faced because of it. And the child apart from being ugly was big and bloated and did not look like a newborn. It had the fiercest and darkest countenance, and I watched in amazement as soon with a voice like a fierce adult man the child barked evil black words of hatred. These came forth from its mouth directed towards the (true) saints. Yet at other times it would (try to) smile sweetly with a halo looking like a lamb, trying to imitate the Jesus in the Nativity paintings but being such an ugly distortion.
And as I thought on this vision, with part amazement and part horror, I was reminded of previous visions I had seen of a dark power spark falling from ’heaven’ to earth to empower the plotting false church and its politicos, the antichrist and his false prophet. Previously they had lacked real spiritual power, depending instead on lies, illusion, hype and charlatanism and psychological manipulation and empty signs - but God said there would be a time when real spiritual power would come - the dark spark (dark meaning demonic) that would come to start their ‘motor vehicle’ - that would be allowed by God as a delusion but was not in any way from God.
I think that no longer will these false prophets be able to be shown up for their lack of medically verifiable healings or their excrutiating bad prophecies not coming to pass. There would indeed be real ’signs’ and ’miracles’ - and possibly even fulfilled prophecies that seem remarkable and accurate - but God help us, these signs were not from God and still not testifying to scripture or the true Jesus or true gospel. They were of the evil one, albeit seemingly in ‘Jesus’ name.
Todd Bentley was a deliberate forerunner sent to deceive the masses in many more ways than one, let alone what seemed the obvious way - that is what happened then and there. Much more plotting and intelligence was afoot than is currently given credit for. For those that have been ‘had’, they are still had. But to those who ‘discerned’, note well that not all false prophets look and sound like Todd Bentley - do not be fooled into a sense of complacency or a sense of requiring such blatancy and obviousness before rejecting someone as a false prophet in a false revival in future - church beware! What happens next from these guys is not the TRUE revival after the false that some are waiting for - though it seems very different from Lakeland and Bentley it is still dark as can possibly be. And all in Jesus’ name - remarkable!
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.
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